US: Sun may be setting on FSIS’s proposed changes to poultry inspection
Posted: May 3rd, 2012 - 6:44pm
DALLAS — If history is any indication, USDA’s proposal to reduce cosmetic inspection in poultry plants won’t see the light of day.
Bob Hibbert, an attorney and industry lobbyist with Washington, D.C.-based K&L Gates, told processors here today that the reaction from the government inspectors’ union and consumer advocacy groups harkens to the failed efforts in the 1980s and in recent years to establish a risk-based inspection system. That the Food Safety and Inspection Service has delayed implementation of its modernized poultry inspection system and extended the comment period on its proposal — and during an election year when the government generally tries to avoid controversy — makes it less likely that it will pass this year, at least.
“If you pull back from this, it’s a question of — given the current political climate — can the system ever change,” Hibbert said.
He noted, however, that the federal government is under intense pressure to reduce its budget, and the poultry inspection proposal would help the feds do so.
FSIS’s proposal sprung from a pilot program began more than a decade ago in dozens of poultry plants and a handful of pork plants. The program reduces the amount of inspectors checking for cosmetic defects in product on the evisceration line and in theory focuses inspection efforts on helping processors reduce pathogenic contamination.
Hibbert said those plants that have been operating with that system since the pilot program was established will likely continue to do so. When that program was launched, FSIS fought and won a lawsuit establishing that the system was legal, he noted.